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August 27, 2014 2

Due Forni

By in Austin, Italian

Due Forni

106 E 6th St
Ste 106
Austin, TX 78701
(512) 391-9300

I had a real bad case of the Mondays this Monday. I was experiencing a lot of angst and was also stressed about preparing for my trip to Greece, which by the way is tomorrow! All I wanted to do was crawl under my work desk, curl into fetal position, and wait till dinner with Amy, Julie, Shelly, and Michelle at Due Forni. The five of us try to meet up every month or so to bond over good food and to catch up on the happenings of each other’s lives. It was just what I needed to get out of my funk.

The server informed us that Due Forni is Italian for “two ovens” which is quite a literal description as they have two ovens to offer two kinds of traditional pizza crusts. The Neapolitan crust pizzas are baked at 900 degrees for 90 seconds, yielding a more pliable texture. The Roman crust pizzas are baked at 500 degrees for 3 minutes, producing a crisp crust. I also learned this Austin restaurant is the second location of Due Forni, the first one is located in Las Vegas.

Due Forni

Due Forni; tomato, mozzarella, house made sausage, bacon, peppers; $16.95

Michelle, Julie, and I each ordered a different pizza and shared. Julie ordered the Due Forni with the Neapolitan crust. It was hearty with a slight kick.

Prosciutto E Rucola

Prosciutto E Rucola; prosciutto, mozzarella, arugula, vincotto; $16.95

Prosciutto and arugula pizzas are my go to orders when I order pizza. I was the only one who ordered the Roman crust which worked very well with this pizza. Though this is my standard order everywhere, I fell in love with the next pizza.


Tartufo; black truffle, parmesan crema, fontina, roasted cremini mushrooms, baked over easy egg; $20.95

Austin’s pizza scene has been flourishing the last year or two which was why I was undecided on whether I’d come to Due Forni on my own accord based on the first two pizzas. But the Tartufo sold me on Due Forni. I’d come back for this pizza. In fact, it was so good, I’m okay with just ordering this every time. Truffle, parmesan crema, and runny egg is quite a decadent trinity!

Double Chocolate Cupcake Bread Pudding

We ended on a sweet note with the double chocolate cupcake bread pudding. It didn’t taste quite like a bread pudding but more like a cast iron brownie, which was still fine by us!

The meal and great conversation were just what I needed on Monday! If I had to cut down this post to just one sentence, it would say, “If you go to Due Forni, order the Tartufo on Neapolitan crust.”

Well, I’m off to eat Greece for the next week!

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August 20, 2014 2

Brunch at Odd Duck

By in American, Austin

Odd Duck
1201 S Lamar Blvd
Austin, TX 78704
(512) 433-6521

I’m losing count of how many times I’ve been to Odd Duck yet I’ve never been for brunch. I’ve also never had a mediocre experience at Odd Duck, speaking to both their food and their service. My first brunch experience was another testament to their consistently wonderful establishment. We were three not so hungry girls and were stuffed with these five small plates. Also consumed but not pictured, multiple cups of coffee and glasses of peach bellinis.

Bibb lettuce; fried oyster, buttermilk, grilled okra, boiled egg; $10

Quiche; summer squash, goat cheese, leeks, peppers; $7

Kolache; goat cheese, jalapeño jam; $5

Tater Tot Hash; confit of goat, poached egg, brown butter hollandaise; $14

French Toast; zucchini bread, buttermilk peach ice cream; $8

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August 18, 2014 0

Pay it Forward with Daniel Curtis

By in Austin, Food Event

During Memorial Day weekend in 2011, Daniel Curtis slipped while diving into his pool and suffered a spinal injury so serious that it rendered him a quadriplegic. His friends and colleagues at AT&T Education and Conference Center rallied together with the best chefs in Austin and raised money for his medical expenses. He has made great strides in his recovery and since then has hosted a yearly fundraising event aptly named, Pay it Forward with Daniel Curtis, aimed to raise awareness about the spinal cord injury community and benefit Lone Star Paralysis Foundation.

This year, like previous years, some of Austin’s most celebrated chefs came together with Daniel to share their talent with delectable bites. There was also a silent auction and a performance from The Spazmatics. It was quite an uplifting and fun party. I cannot imagine anyone hearing Daniel’s story and what he’s done in the wake of a life-changing accident to continue being a positive force in this world and not be inspired and humbled.

Pay it Forward with Daniel Curtis

Odd Duck’s Baked Brie, Stuffed with Figs and Greek Chili

Play it Forward with Daniel Curtis

Jack Allen’s Shepherd’s Pie

Pay it Forward with Daniel Curtis

Uchi’s Smoked Corn Dashi, Gulf Crab, Papalo

Pay it Forward with Daniel Curtis

Uchiko’s Lemon Cream, Papalow Ice, Local Melon

Pay it Forward with Daniel Curtis

Austin Cake Ball

Pay it Forward with Daniel Curtis
St. Phillip’s Chicken Salad Lettuce Wraps

Pay it Forward with Daniel Curtis
“Clam Chowda” – New Crop Red Potato-Leek Vichyssoise with Black Pepper Crèma, Olive Oil and Marinated Littleneck Clams

Pay it Forward with Daniel Curtis

Carillon’s Chilled Cucumber Avocado Soup with Crab

Pay it Forward with Daniel Curtis
Carillon’s Achiote Glazed Filet of Beef

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August 16, 2014 2

Lunch in the Life: Cenote

By in American, Austin, Coffee shops

1010 E Cesar Chavez St
Austin, TX 78702
(512) 524-1311

Cenote Omelette; tomato, onion, arugula, pesto, capers, goat cheese; $9

I drive by the darling mint colored house turned eatery that is Cenote pretty often and have yet to go in. So last weekend when Anita and I had a meeting scheduled to hammer out the last of our Greece trip bookings, I suggested we meet at Cenote. I chose a light omelette to eat and the cortado to revive me from a very late night (or morning?) out. I tend to indulge with heavy meals when I eat out but the lightness of this breakfast at lunch time was just what I needed.

After we ate, we stayed another hour and finished booking ferries and flights to finalize our Greek island hopping adventure that is in just two weeks, making this lunch quite memorable. We even made friends with our dining neighbors and crashed a first date happening less than two feet from our table.

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August 2, 2014 1

Watermelon Honey Mint Popsicles

By in Desserts, drinks


I’ve been seeing pretty homemade popsicles on my social media feeds and the very day I decided to buy molds to make some of my own, I was gifted a set. How’s that for synchronicity?

I blended watermelon, drizzles of honey, a squeeze of lime, and about 3 leaves of mint and was quite pleased with the results. I used all natural ingredients and the flavor profile is perfect for a hot summer day. My friends and pup have been enjoying these pops today. Be sure to taste the mixture before freezing. You can make these a few days before serving the popsicles and serve the remaining blended mixture as watermelon juice. Don’t forget to garnish your drink with mint leaves to make it feel special!


July 28, 2014 3

Asheville: Liquid Truffle at French Broad Chocolate Lounge

By in Asheville, Austin, Desserts

Liquid Truffle

10 S Lexington Ave
Asheville, NC 28801
(828) 252-4181

It is a life goal of mine to visit every single state in the US. There are rules. Airports layovers do not count. Straight drive throughs do not count. I have to experience something of note in each state. It has been a slow endeavor of mine but in the last seven months I have knocked off seven states, bringing me officially to the halfway mark!

A couple of weeks ago I flew into Charlotte, North Carolina and immediately drove into South Carolina to spend the night and see a 1,400 year old oak tree. Then I drove back up to North Carolina to attend a wedding. Woke up the next day and drove three hours into Virginia to see a sight and then another four hours to visit Asheville, North Carolina. I could have technically been done with North Carolina with just the wedding but I’ve had my sights on seeing the Biltmore for ages. You can read more about my experience of Biltmore on my personal blog.

I kept hearing about French Broad Chocolate Lounge when I was in Asheville. The line was out the door when I arrived but I’m not one to balk at long lines. (Thanks for the conditioning Hopdoddy, Ramen Tatsuya, and Franklin!) I had just finished eating a big meal but thought I could make room to taste at least one thing. I asked one of the servers what would they recommend to someone who has never been there and might possibly never be back. Without blinking he said the liquid truffle, which I then learned is what they call their drinking chocolate.

Now, I’ve had plenty of drinking chocolates and have had a long time favorite in Houston’s Chocolate Bar. It was such a convenience to have my best cup of drinking chocolate just a three hour drive away from me. I’m so sad to say my best cup experienced is now 1,150 miles or a 17 hour drive away. Damn.

It was smooth, rich, thick, and I had mine flavored with a hint of honey and lavender.

I had already fallen in love with Asheville by the time I drank this decadent cup of chocolate. I smiled to myself as I remembered my opening line to the server. “What do you recommend to someone who hasn’t been here and might never come back?”

I guess the joke is on me.

Move over Chocolate Bar in Houston, French Broad Chocolate Lounge is the new purveyor of the best hot chocolate of my life.

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July 20, 2014 0

Easy Ice Cream Cake

By in Desserts

Happy National Ice Cream Day!

I was just going through my photos and found this photo of an ice cream cake I made for a going away dinner I hosted last week. I forgot to take a photo of the cake before we all dug in with multiple slices each, but this aftermath of a cake still conveys the original essence. I know. It sounds like I’m talking out my bum when I suggest that this cake has essence. Its essence is joy, ease, childhood nostalgia, and celebration. Do you see it now?

ice cream cake

I found the easy recipe for this ice cream cake on Beautiful Mess.

I lined a square baking pan with wax paper for easy transfer. I then lined the bottom with ice cream sandwiches. (For the whole cake, I used 10 ice cream sandwiches). I cut a couple of sandwiches to fit the pan. Then quickly added a layer of ice cream. I chose my current favorite store bought flavor, HEB Creamy Creations, Candy Bar Classic, which ended up being a great complement because the nuts added a salty component to the otherwise very sweet cake. Then I added another layer of ice cream sandwiches on top. I covered the pan and placed it in the freezer as I worked on my top layer.

For the top layer, I melted chocolate and crushed Birthday Oreos. When the topping was prepped, I pulled out the ice cream cake and spread the melted chocolate on top and sprinkled with sprinkles and Oreo crumbs. I covered the cake again and put it in the freezer to set.

I made this the night before dinner and it was one less thing I had to worry about the night of the dinner. The cake was easy to remove from the pan and presented well on white serving plate. It’s just a shame we were too excited to dig into the cake to snap that before photo.

My roommate and I gleefully ate the left overs the next day. I’ll definitely be making this again!


July 9, 2014 0

Dallas: Monkey King Noodle Company

By in Asian, Dallas

3014 Main St
Dallas, TX 75226
(469) 206-3658

My visit to Monkey King Noodle Company has been way overdue. I have the pleasure of being college friends with two of the three owners, Andrew Chen and Michael Wang. Michael Wang and I were close friends throughout college and had twice weekly noodle lunch dates! I have had the pleasure of seeing him mature and grow the last twelve years. He has seen me through the toughest times of my life and now that we’re in different corners of the country, I still find myself beaming with pride. Michael, Andrew, and the third owner of MKNC, Michelle Midyette opened Monkey King Noodle Company in Deep Ellum, Dallas, Texas in September of last year.

Coincidentally, one of my best friends, Treavor moved to Deep Ellum from Seattle in February. Not knowing that I’ve already been following MKNC, he recently sent me an article about MKNC as a gentle reminder that I still needed to visit him in Dallas. He also posted this photo of beautiful sunflowers located close to Dallas. So that was the final push. I made a one day trip to Dallas to romp around in sunflower fields and to eat at MKNC. It was the perfect Saturday. Spending the morning gazing at sunflowers bigger than our faces, and then in the evening on a rooftop patio slurping hand pulled noodles with people I love. Oh yeah, the noodles are hand pulled. You can watch in wonder through a window.

Andrew pulling noodles.

I ordered the spicy beef noodle soup ($8) and it was the best spicy beef noodle soup I’ve had! I’ve also sampled my friends’ Dandan Noodles ($8) and chicken noodle soup ($8). The Dandan noodles were my favorite of the three. It has mild sweet and spicy undertones that really tantalizes. Anita’s chicken noodle soup had a very clean feel to it and the chicken was amazingly tender. We also shared steamed pork dumplings ($7) and soup dumplings ($8). We were all happy campers. We ended this Saturday with a night out dancing. Another perfect summer night to go down in the books.

Monkey King Noodle Company
Monkey King Noodle Company

Monkey King Noodle Company


Monkey King Noodle Company

Monkey King Noodle Company

With one of the owners, Andrew Chen

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June 24, 2014 0

Houston: Carbonara at Coppa Osteria

By in Houston, Italian

Coppa Osteria

5210 Morningside
Houston, TX 77005
(713) 522-3535

A couple of weekends ago, my friends met for brunch at Taverna after cheering for me as I rappelled my way down The W Hotel Austin. I sat with them for a mere ten minutes because I had to run off to make a rendezvous point for a surprise party. Ten minutes was just long enough to order a side of roasted potatoes I didn’t have time to eat and to steal two bites of my friend’s carbonara. Guys, two bites of carbonara was not enough. I’ve been craving it ever since and almost squealed when I spotted it on the menu at Coppa Osteria this past weekend in Houston.

There are certain dishes I’m always drawn to when I spy them on a menu. Bread puddings, chocolate soufflés, arugula proscuitto pizzas, and carbonaras are all such dishes. In all my carbonara eating days, I’ve never had the server pour the cream and mix my pasta for me. I barely had enough time to steal this shot as the server poured on the decadent parmesan cream. Part of the joy of eating carbonara is breaking the egg yolk and gently folding it into your noodles. You won’t get that joy at Coppa Osteria as the server will perform that task for you. However, you may quickly forgive the trespass once you tuck into the pasta.


spaghetti carbonara: black pepper, parsley, salumi toscano, egg yolk, parmesan cream; $19

Carbonaras aren’t exactly diet friendly but that’s part of the joy of a great carbonara, the sense of sinful indulgence. Don’t tell anyone but I had my best friend play lookout as I licked the buttery creamy sauce from my spoon.

Question: What’s something you have to order if you spy it on a menu?

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June 13, 2014 2

Fire Salmon at Soto

By in Asian, Austin

11066 Pecan Park Blvd
Ste 402
Cedar Park, TX 78613
(512) 257-0788

What’s refreshing about dining with fellow food bloggers is that we all take photos of our food and there’s a mutual disregard for dining decorum. Actually, it’s a point of connection as we all try to accommodate each other’s shots. “I’m sorry, am I casting a shadow on your shot?” is a question that is often asked to dinner company when dining with food bloggers. My loved ones who aren’t food bloggers understand that I love snapping photos of my food and they patiently wait and I in turn try to grab that shot as fast as I can. Most of the time I don’t even blog the food photos! (You can always find them on my Instagram.)

I restrain myself when I’m dining with new friends who aren’t keen to what it’s like to eat with food bloggers. I keep my phone in my purse and don’t even pack the DSLR. I admire the beauty of the plating and at most I might discretely and forlornly sigh at a lost opportunity. I was at such a dinner at Soto a few nights ago. Soto’s signature off the menu dish is the Fire Salmon and I breached my conduct code. I apologized to my dinner companion and said, “I’m really sorry. This is too gorgeous not to take a quick phone photo.”

But really, look at it.

Fire Salmon

Salmon sprinkled with edible flower petals, draped on lemon grass, and seared over 151 and coffee beans. I had to steal a photo.

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